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Native American History

American history can be divided into two parts: pre-Columbian and post-Columbian. Until Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, the only occupants of this country were people who are now known as Native Americans (or American Indians). They were several million in number and consisted of different tribes and brands. It was only after this that white people from Europe began exploring and colonizing America.

The discovery of their land by Columbus was the beginning of an era of cruelty and despair for the Native Americans. European powers attempted to colonize different parts of America. In the process, thousands of Native Americans were killed and tortured. There were several wars between the 16th and the 19th century between the Native Americans and the Europeans. But the major killer was the spread of diseases. The Europeans brought with them diseases like influenza, measles, cholera etc., which were not fatal for the Europeans; since Native Americans were not immune to these diseases, they died in large numbers.

During the American Revolution in 1776, most of the Native American tribes sided with the British Empire, mainly due to the ruling elite’s promise that their lands would remain safe and independent under the Crown. But their support could not help the British Empire to defeat the Americans.

After the Revolution, the Native Americans found themselves at a position of further disadvantage. Now, they had to obey the absolute rulers: the Americans. They no longer had the leverage of turning one European force against the other and then taking sides; the French had already been pushed out of America.

Through the 19th and 20th century, the Native Americans lived as an oppressed minority. They lost a huge chunk of their land and resources to the Americans. There were however, some reforms to increase their participation in the mainstream American society. The Dawes Act allowed Native Americans to live their lives much like the Modern American people. They were allotted land in the main towns and cities in return for the land that they conceded to the American government.

The most significant landmark for Native Americans in the 20th century was the formation of American Indian Movement in 1968. This was mainly aimed at fighting against the racism and injustice faced by the Native Americans.

Today, there are about 5.2 million people living in the United States of America. The current US administration is keen upon giving incentives to Native American students to study at the best universities and colleges in the country and join their workforce.